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Embalming fluid, doll parts, and toilet paper rolls

Posted by clare on October 24th, 2008

A recent story of mine, currently featured on the Oakland North homepage: Cityโ€™s oddest supplies shop facing hard times too

Don’t miss the audio slide show down at the bottom. Multimedia, yeah!


Two years out

Posted by clare on October 23rd, 2008

I think I’m finally hitting the end of Peace Corps related anniversaries that I can legitimately use as excuses for blog posts. So here it is: Today marks two years since I returned to the U.S. after two years in Senegal.

The volunteer who replaced me is back in America (welcome home, Donna!), I haven’t even tried to call the village in almost a year… I wonder if Bandi’s still alive.

I was on a Peace Corps panel the other night. Four RPCVs talked about their environmental work. One guy showed horrific pictures of sea turtle slaughter, another had that edge in her voice that maybe only other volunteers recognize—a strained quality that comes from long periods of trying to deal constructively with rampant inefficiency, absurdity, and frustration. Or maybe I’m just projecting.

Though standing in front of an audience, giving my Peace Corps PowerPoint presentation, it was fun to feel kinda special again—and not in the J-school short bus way I’ve been feeling lately.

Which reminds me, the crazy-reporting-class website went live: Oakland North, which along with the other J200 class news sites has the entire faculty tickled pink. The students are more likely to be loudly cursing various computer programs.

I’m incredibly impressed by my classmates’ prolific, quality article output. And photos. And videos. And audio slide shows. Multimedia, baby.

Speaking of multimedia, here are the things which I have photographed but not uploaded yet:

– The August road trip to Colorado. Many hundreds of photos.
– Cory and Josh’s baby shower in Oregon at the start of October… for Gabriel Vyrle Owens, who was born Tuesday night! ๐Ÿ™‚
– My recent move. Andrew and I moved into a house in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland—a great area, within stumbling distance of restaurants, stores, BART, and Leslie & Bryan.
– Various J-school photos and frame grabs.

And now to continue procrastination elsewhere.


From the Field: Close-up with the Sisters

Posted by clare on October 6th, 2008

One of the many hazards/perks of turning the Folsom Street Fair into a reporting assignment: preparing for an interview with two Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.


meetin deadline

Posted by clare on September 22nd, 2008

meetin deadline - ur doin it wrong


brain dump fail

Posted by clare on September 21st, 2008

I’m about to start week five of J-school and I would *really* love to tell the Internets all about the past four—I’ve been guilt-ridden and a bit ashamed about my poor blogging performance. My mother suspects that I’m posting on some other, top-secret, invitation-only blog. I am not.

My problem is that 99.9% of my mental space is reserved for trying to keep track of how far behind I am in J200, the infamous first semester “beat reporting” class that we are all required to take. I’m working so hard to process everything that I’m seeing/hearing/reading/writing/failing to write into something coherent for myself that I don’t have any coherence left for the friends and family who so nicely inquire as to how grad school is going.

Oh, it’s going. Going whizzing by, and I’m running like mad to keep up.

What the hell have I been doing? I’ve gone to an Oakland Police Department press conference (they have a podium that’s decorated to look like the front of a police car), an Oakland city council meeting (mind-bogglingly boring—except for the horde of bikers [the motorcycle kind]), a five-hour meeting on immigration conducted mostly in Spanish, and an on-campus press conference attended by myself, two classmates, and a cameraman from Univision.

I’ve learned how freakin hard it is to write as fast as people speak (especially if I want to be able to read my notes afterward).

I now have business cards that state that I Am A Journalist. I hand them to people. People I’m interviewing.

I do that now. Because I’m a Journalist.

Pretty soon my J200 class’s website will be up, so then at least I’ll be able to re-post content here that I was already required to post for class. We’re creating a news site for the North Oakland/Rockridge/Temescal area of Oakland—which happens to be where I live, conveniently enough.

Ultimately, though, it’s fantastic. I’m busy seven days a week, but I’m busy with interesting, challenging work that I want to be doing. I feel like in a few more weeks I’ll have gotten my footing at least a tiny bit more—enough so that I’ll be able to communicate what I’m experiencing more than five minutes past that article’s deadline.


My first week of J-school

Posted by clare on August 29th, 2008

…has consisted of twelve-hour days spent chasing ducks with a microphone and sitting through hour after hour of tutorials. We covered still cameras, audio recorders, tiny HD camcorders, Photoshop, Soundtrack Pro, Final Cut Pro, Soundslides, and Flash. And by “covered” I mean “touched on the very basics of doing more than just hitting random buttons.”

I’m actually still on campus, typing from my iPhone. In 20 minutes we present our group multimedia projects. My group of four covered Lake Temescal, a small lake nestled (squished?) between two highways and some fancy housing developments up in the Oakland Hills. (Hence the duck-chasing.)

The reasonable thing to do afterwards would be to go home and sleep before my all-day sea kayaking class tomorrow. Instead, I’ll be sticking around to watch the first half of a Wire Season 5 marathon—David Simon (creator/executive producer of The Wire) is going to be a writer-in-residence at the J-school in a few weeks.

I’m exhausted, but all these possibilities I see opening up around me are making up for the lack of sleep.


What I've been doing for the past three months:

Posted by clare on August 10th, 2008

June: Eating oysters at Point Reyes and standing around at the San Francisco Pride parade. The parade was entertaining—and heartwarming, what with all the newlyweds—but I still think parades just aren’t quite right without bead-throwing. Or with open container laws.

we all deserve the freedom to marry

Fairy Godmother?

dykes on bikes bikes

calendar models

And then in July: Camping at Utica Reservoir. Without the bear, this time.

in camp

floating on utica

Now I’m in Colorado, on a camping/backpacking vacation with Andrew before I start school on the 21st. On this trip: 2 DSLRs, 1 point-and-shoot, 1 video camera, 2 iPods, 2 Mac laptops, 2 GPSs, 2 iPhones, 1 radar detector, and 1,964 photos from the past 5 days.


Saare Modou from space

Posted by clare on May 19th, 2008

Josh alerted me today to Google Earth’s recently updated images of my little corner of Senegal—where there was once nothing but blurry brown and green there are now trees, paths, huts, and a batiment under construction (where my hut used to be) as of last November:

Saare Modou close up

Here’s a wider view, with landmarks: the new well, the old well, and my family’s compound.

Saare Modou with labels

If anyone knows how to submit a town marker to the Great Google, let me know!

(And here’s a link to the Google Earth kmz file that will take you to this view. You’ll have to download the program, but it’s worth it for all the other flying around the globe you can do.)


blog fatigue

Posted by clare on May 13th, 2008

For the three of you who still check this thing: Hi! Thanks for your misplaced loyalty!

Excuses:

1) Busy. With work, mostly. I’ve been editing a steady stream of Adobe projects—customer profiles and filmmaker stories from Sundance, including a really cool doc on kids’ experiences of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cory and I also revised our “soil in Senegal” video for a Peace Corps World Wise Schools feature.

2) Blog fatigue. I hit the point that many others have, where I realized that what I would be writing about (if I sat down and forced myself to) was stuff that wasn’t especially unique or insightful. Or interesting, even to little ol’ navel-gazing me. And while wankery can make you famous, I have no interest in just adding to the noise. Susan Sontag had it right:

“A good rule before one goes marching or signing anything: whatever your tug of sympathy, you have no right to a public opinion unless you’ve been there, experienced firsthand and on the ground and for some considerable time the country, war, injustice, whatever, you are talking about. In the absence of such firsthand knowledge and experience: silence.”

I could comment on every Peace Corps story that pops up in the national news, but does anyone really care? The days and the weeks and the months are passing in a blur of work and guilt over unfinished work and episodes of The Wire, and honestly I have no interest in boring my friends with trite laments about “Where does the time go?”… which of course brings us to:

3) Mid-twenties, post-Peace-Corps crisis, blah blah blah. Maybe I should get a dog.

Blogging might become interesting/relevant again once I’m at school this fall (Orientation starts August 21st. I’ve bought a Cal sticker and a t-shirt, so I’m set.), but until then I’ll probably just post the occasional photo.

Thanks for checking in, all the same ๐Ÿ˜‰


Round 3:

Posted by clare on February 28th, 2008

Accepted. (Again. Finally!)